My son dislikes his friend but I still like the parents

mom2emallMarch 2, 2009

So the problem is a neighborhood kid and his family. My ds was in class with the boy last year. They talked in school but not much out of school. The parents pulled the kid out of school mid-year to home school him. He had ADHD and the teacher my ds and him had chose to send the kid to the principal everyday instead of have patience with him. The mom was leaving work all the time to come up to the school. Big mess. So she pulled him and his brother out of school to homeschool them.

Spring came and we were walking through our neighborhood and ran into the kid playing in his front yard. Me and the mom began talking and the kids began playing. All spring and summer we saw them often. Went camping together over the summer with our families. I really like his parents. The child is off the wall...but that is to be expected at times with unmedicated ADHD.

Anyways this school year my son avoids the childs calls. We have run into them at neighborhood functions and they play together then, but my son never wants to invite him over or go to his house. The mom calls me and we talk and she tries to arrange play dates with me.

I ask my son why he does not want to play with the boy anymore and he just says its boring. He says their house is boring and that when the boy comes here he is a better playmate for our 6 yr old.

I understand that my son does not want to play with the boy. He is pretty immature and hyper I guess. My problem now is his mom. What do I say? I like her and do not want to insult her or her son. But how do I tell her my son just does not want to play with hers? Or do I keep making excuses why they can't get together? I feel awful!

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As a teacher and parent myself, I'd chose a completely different path. Assuming this child isn't dangerous to your child--I'd be teaching my child tolerance and helping the boys find some fun activities they could enjoy together. It's important that we help our children see that there are all different types of people in the world, and that all have something valuable to offer, and that with a little effort we can get along with most of them. I would NEVER allow my child to discriminate against a child simply because of a disability. As a teacher, I can assure you, if you approach this enthusiastically, and really work with the boys to organize some fun activities for them, it will work out. I've worked with children with far worse disabilities than you've described and there is ALWAYS a way to reach them.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2009 at 5:54PM
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I did not mean to sound like we are discriminating against this child. My son just does not enjoy playing with the boy. He said they have nothing in common.

I have suggested board games, nerf guns, legos, etc. He says he just does not like to play with him.

I am hoping that once warmer weather comes they can enjoy outdoor things together like they did last year. When it was nice outside they swam together, rode bikes together, we all went to the park together, and they had a good time.

I am just looking for some ideas on what to do now.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2009 at 6:31PM
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I have a couple of friends with kids my own kids age, okay my kids are now older, but when they were younger, the kids didn't play together, didn't hang out with the same group in school, etc. They got along, but were not close friends. There is nothing saying your kids have to be friends just because the parents are friends.


    Bookmark   March 2, 2009 at 6:44PM
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if he does not want to play with that boy, he does not have to. simple as that. say nothing to his mom, she will figure it out eventually.

azzalea, what is that to do with discrimination. are you friends with everyone you ever meet or you spend time with people you want? if you choose not to spend time wiht people, does it mean you discrimnate against them? why do you think kids have to play wiht everybody?

    Bookmark   March 2, 2009 at 6:59PM
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Tricky situation.

I have been in this situation myself and have often been a bit frustrated by it.

I have got around it by just meeting with the mother, for coffee etc, when the kids are not around. But it is difficult when you might want to ask the other parent, your friend, to dinner and bring the kids. I guess I just used to avoid that. Now the kids have all grown up. It is really just for a few years that you have tip toe through issues like this.

I don't think it is fair to force your son to play with a child he does not get on with. Let him make his own choices. He is not discriminating, he has legitimate reasons for not wanting to play with the other child.

I think you could breach the subject with the other mother by saying "I don't think they get on..." or "DS has some other friends now, they are so fickle..." Just try and be a bit jovial about it, and the message will get across without feelings being hurt.

Good luck !

    Bookmark   March 2, 2009 at 7:13PM
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I honestly believe that children can be taught to get along with all kinds of people. And if they don't learn that lesson as children, how can they hope to be successful in the workforce, when they may have a boss or coworker they don't 'care to play (or work) with?'

Look--obviously you can do what you want. I just suggested that you might want to use this as an opportunity, rather than as a limitation. It's easy to find common ground for children to enjoy--there's always something they have in common that you can build on. Yes, sometimes it takes a little time to search it out, and find a way to make it work, but it's worth it. Especially as you seem to want to continue to have a relationship with this family. Seems to me the easiest way is to encourage, rather than discourage the kds. but what do I know? I've only been a parent for 27 years, and a teacher for over 35.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2009 at 9:42PM
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One of my closest friends lives two blocks from me and has a daughter just a few months older than my DD, they are both 9 right now. Of course in the beginning we thought how fun for the four of us to do things together. We'd get together at each other home for coffee and bring the girls to play together. Always invited the other's daughter to birthday parties.

Finally we recognized, these two don't click. Yeah, they *can* get along, and play together respectfully, there is no conflict. But they would not initiate playing together, after a while they get bored with each other, have nothing else to talk about, and generally think the other is "strange."

My friend planned a party for her daughter's most recent birthday. At some point in a conversation she just said to me, "I hope you aren't offended, but B didn't put C on her guest list." She considered inviting C (my DD) anyway, b/c of our friendship. But decided the girls are old enough to choose their own friends. I was absolutely NOT offended. I see as well as she does that these girls do not click. My own DD would not be interested in B's party, she would declare the whole affair "too girly." Sure, she'd behave and be polite, but she'd be disinterested and want to leave as soon as possible.

I agree that kids must learn to get along with all personalities and special needs. You never know what surprises await in new people, and you have to get to know them to find out. My kids' friends reflect different cultures, religions, and special needs and just plain quirks. One of DS#2's closest friends is deaf, wears cochlear implants, and it can be very frustrating to communicate with him. But the boys are together almost every day and make it work. We had some neighbors who drove my kids nuts, but I talked to them about how to make it work for at least a little while from time to time. I didn't make them play every time the boy rang our doorbell, but I didn't let them avoid the boy if they were all outside. Despite the fact that he could trip while walking, I encouraged my boys to give him skates and sticks they've outgrown to let him play street hockey with them... b/c he just wants to learn what they're doing. He had some learning disability and didn't socialize well, either. I did give my kids instructions on how to talk to him, to be direct and clear, literal with their words. He didn't get "between the lines." They needed to learn that, but when playing with him was all work on their part, they don't need to develop it any further. They did their part, but don't need to be responsible for his socialization.

At the same time, kids deserve to have their feelings respected. If they say they don't want a close friendship with a person, it need not be forced for the purpose of life lessons. Especially when it is based on having spent time with the person and learning that they don't have a lot in common. We can learn to get along with everyone, but that's not the same as investing emotions and time into a friendship. Mom2emall's DS can learn to make it work when they are together, but should have his feelings respected and not be pushed to host playdates.

Also, no kid needs to be the object of a "pity friendship." The other child deserves to be in a friendship with kids who have common interests and have fun being with him, who like him for who he is; not with kids who are with him so parents can teach them to be friends with people who are "different." That's condescending.

The friendship my DS has with his friend who is deaf works b/c DS really has fun with the boy, not b/c DS is being charitable. It works b/c of mutual interests and complementary personalities... the way friendships are supposed to work. They really are quite a pair! Incidentally, the met b/c his mom and I were friends first, too. However, the boys' friendship as surpassed ours! They just hit it off the first time they met.

Picking your own friends and getting along with (almost) everyone is not mutually exclusive. When the families are together let your DS know that it is a short time and they can find something to do that works for everyone. Regarding requests for playdates, I would agree to have the boy over if it helped my friend out with her schedule. But I think I'd just be honest, decline and say "I really wish our boys hit it off better, and maybe they will when they get older."

    Bookmark   March 3, 2009 at 12:19AM
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Apparently these two children can get along. But the one boy does not enjoy "playing" with the other. Fine. They don't have to play with each other. Don't force a friend on the kid. Just let the mom know that your son really isn't interested. The other mom needs to find someone else who would be a good social contact for her son.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2009 at 12:52PM
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The OP never said how old her son is.

I have a similar situation but my DD is only six. At six they are not all that picky and playing with someone is better than no one.

As they get older, there are definatley kids that "click" and kids that don't. I don't think it is too much to ask for your son to play with/entertain the boy if you are having a social gathering with the family.

Also, having ADHD, he may have trouble making and keeping friends. If you invite the boy to do something fun like a movie (not just a playdate) your son may be more receptive.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2009 at 4:14PM
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I agree with Stephanie in Ga - I really liked her response. These kids have played a lot together, and even camped together as families. But your son no longer wants to play with this child. Your son is avoiding this kids phone calls, after months and months of playing together frequently. I agree with Stephanie, that your son has the right to have his feelings respected and heard. And he trusts you, his mom, to do just that.

Get together with the mom on your own. Yes kids need to learn to get along with all sorts of people. And they do just that, at school, and with relatives, sports, etc. It sounds like your son has really given this a good try. And the fit just isn't right for your son. Should your son's feelings just be ignored, because you want this woman as a friend? I think most mom's go through something like this.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 9:37AM
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